Supplementary corporate information 2022–2023

Raison d’être, mandate and role: who we are and what we do

Under the Library and Archives of Canada Act, the mandate of Library and Archives Canada (LAC) is as follows:

  • to preserve the documentary heritage of Canada for the benefit of present and future generations;
  • to be a source of enduring knowledge accessible to all, contributing to the cultural, social and economic advancement of Canada as a free and democratic society;
  • to facilitate in Canada co-operation among communities involved in the acquisition, preservation and diffusion of knowledge; and
  • to serve as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.

The Minister of Canadian Heritage is responsible for LAC.

Mandate and role

LAC’s mandate to manage Canada’s documentary heritage rests on three pillars:

1. Acquiring and processing documentary heritage

LAC is responsible for acquiring documentary heritage of historical value and that shows developments in various areas of activity within Canadian society over the years. The LAC collections contain documents created and published in Canada and abroad that is of interest to Canadians and stored in various formats. To add to its collections, LAC pursues the mandate assigned to it under the Act as well as various mechanisms that include donations and acquisitions.

2. Preserving documentary heritage

LAC is responsible for preserving its collections to ensure that they stand the test of time and remain accessible to future generations. This responsibility rests on the expertise of its employees who specialize in preservation, on its processes of migration and digitization of content, and on the quality of LAC’s infrastructure.

3. Providing access to Canada’s documentary heritage

LAC’s responsibilities regarding access to documentary heritage consist of facilitating searches and consultation of its vast collections. LAC offers access to its documentary resources by:

  • providing the public with digital content and online services;
  • providing on-site services at 395 Wellington Street in Ottawa and at its service points in Halifax, Winnipeg and Vancouver; and
  • contributing to exhibitions that enable the public to discover LAC collections in communities, museums and cultural sites across Canada.

Operating context

In 2022–23, LAC’s Departmental Plan focused on two strategic priorities: optimizing its digital capacity and transforming its services. These two priorities have guided the organization’s activities and the achievement of its results. They are at the heart of the transition that LAC began a few years ago, which is focused on digital technology, the public’s needs, and the flexibility of LAC’s interactions with its partners and users.

To implement this transition, LAC is now building on its new Vision 2030 strategic direction and strategic road map, which calls for LAC to put users first by focusing on access, building capacity and transforming the way we work. These three principles will guide the organization’s efforts and decision making over the coming years, fostering a collaborative organizational culture.

LAC is also continuing discussions on updating the Library and Archives of Canada Act, passed in 2004, to better reflect the mandate and responsibilities that the institution intends for the future in the acquisition, preservation and accessibility of Canada’s documentary heritage.

To better meet the demands of the digital environment, LAC is working on, among other things, promoting and expanding the use of its Digital Asset Management System (DAMS) with government departments, publishers and creators of cultural content. Now operational, DAMS will support the acquisition, assessment, description, integration, preservation and retrieval of digital collections held at LAC, as well as secure access to the collections.

LAC is a key player in access to information in Canada. Its responsibilities for requests under the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act go well beyond those of other federal departments and agencies. LAC is the custodian of billions of pages of records that it preserves on behalf of over 200 federal entities. In particular, its teams provide documents to support the settlement of litigation involving the government. In 2022–23, LAC supported the government’s response to the Canadian Armed Forces and National Defence Sexual Misconduct Class Action (Heyder Beattie) and the Federal Indian Day School Class Action.

LAC also continues to support the government’s efforts toward reconciliation with Indigenous communities and peoples by helping them to manage (by preserving, digitizing, accessing and presenting) their heritage through its Listen, Hear Our Voices and We Are Here: Sharing Stories initiatives, as well as by increasing access to Indigenous content in the collections in its care.

The institution contributes to the federal priority of investing in green infrastructure and technology. Its Preservation Storage Facility in Gatineau, inaugurated in November 2022, is the first federal facility built to the requirements of the Greening Government Strategy. It has net-zero emissions, just as Ādisōke, the future facility shared with Ottawa Public Library, will have in 2030. These green buildings will be environmental models and showcases for the design of future sustainable infrastructure across the country.

Like the federal government, LAC has heard the calls for action to address systemic inequalities and disparities, particularly within core institutions, that contribute to the marginalization, intentional or not, of many Canadians. LAC believes that it is essential to create and maintain a respectful, inclusive and diverse work environment and culture to support the professional development of its employees.